"NW Tribes Drive Effort To Save Primitive Fish"

"As long as American Indians have lived in the Pacific Northwest, they have looked to a jawless, eel-like fish for food.

Tribes once harvested the lamprey from rivers throughout the Columbia Basin, which stretches from the Oregon coast up into Canada. But with dozens of hydroelectric dams in the way, the fish has followed the path of the buffalo _ from a food staple of a people to a curiosity.

Today, the tribes in the Northwest have just one place to go for them: a 40-foot waterfall on the Willamette River flanked by an abandoned paper mill and a power plant, and located about a dozen miles upstream from a Superfund site.

Unlike salmon, which have drawn billions of dollars in government funds to modify dams and restore habitat, the lamprey have gone largely ignored. It's the tribes that still eat them that are driving the effort to bring them back."

Jeff Barnard reports for the Associated Press August 2, 2011.
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Wednesday, August 3, 2011